While there have been delays in securing Covid-19 vaccine supplies for South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday evening said the government was still confident it would achieve its vaccination targets.
“The demand for vaccines around the world has become extremely competitive but we are doing our best to secure enough supply for the people of South Africa and the African continent. We have had to adapt to the changing nature of the virus and to emerging evidence about the effectiveness of different vaccines.
“We will ensure that we have sufficient doses of effective vaccines to reach population immunity in the shortest possible time,” Ramaphosa said.
The president was speaking during a televised address to the nation on the country’s Covid-19 response ahead of the Easter long weekend.
Ramaphosa announced that the government had secured 11 million doses of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine and a further 20 million shots. This brings the total number of SA’s J&J vaccines to 31 million.
“Together, this supply of vaccines will provide us with enough doses to vaccinate 41 million people. We will make further announcements once these negotiations have been concluded,” he said.
Ramaphosa also announced that the government was also negotiating with the manufacturers of other vaccines such as Sinovac and Sinopharm from China, and Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine.
“Some of these manufacturers are in the final stages of the approval process for use of the vaccines in South Africa.
“In addition to the vaccine doses, we will receive directly through our agreements with manufacturers, we will also receive an allocation of vaccine doses through the African Union initiative that we established when we held the Chairshop of the African Union,” Ramaphosa said.
South Africa first began its vaccination programme in mid-February administrating the J&J vaccine to the country’s healthcare workers in both the public and private sector.
To date, more than 250,000 health workers have received the vaccine as part of the Sisonke trial.
“This phase is on track to be completed within three months,” Ramaphosa said.
Phase two of the programme is scheduled to start in mid-May targeting essential workers and vulnerable groups with co-morbidities.
Registration for vaccination is scheduled to start in April and over 2,000 vaccination sites have been identified across the country, the president said.
“Under Phase two we hope to vaccinate more of our people over six months.
“In line with international best practice, we will be prioritising those at the highest risk of hospitalisation and death, such as people over 60 and people living with co-morbidities.
“The second phase of the Covid-19 vaccination programme aims to ensure that we will protect our communities, prevent health services from being overwhelmed and reduce the need for lockdowns that seriously disrupt education, the economy and each one of our lives,” Ramaphosa said.